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Community Education director knows Morris area well

Tony Reimers, director of Community Education for the Morris area.

MORRIS – When Tony Reimers walked into Morris Area Elementary School to interview to be Morris Area’s next director of community education, he was impressed that the community ed office was in such a prominent location.

“You go to some communities and they’re in an office warehouse five miles away from the high school – wherever they can find rental space,” said Reimers. The location “says a lot about the value that the community puts on community ed.”

For Reimers, returning to Stevens County to take this position offers both personal and professional opportunities – a job close to family that fits in with the experience he developed working at a small, independent school in the Twin Cities.

Reimers and his wife, Lori, graduated from Chokio-Alberta High School. Their families still live in the area, working in Morris or farming outside of Chokio.

Reimers began his career in the classroom, teaching a variety of classes for fifth, sixth and seventh grade students at Mounds Park Academy, an independent school in St. Paul with an enrollment of about 600 students, for about 13 years.

“Mounds Park Academy was trying to recreate what small town America has to offer – it’s the community feel, knowing everybody by name,” said Reimers.

After earning a master's of education, Reimers was was promoted to eighth grade dean of students, followed by middle school director. Two years later, the job was expanded to include all of the pre-kindergarten through middle school students in the district.

Because MPA was a small school it gave the feel of a small community even though the family was living in a suburb of the Twin Cities, but Reimers said he and his wife, Lori, hoped to move back to a small town.  

“When I graduated, both Lori and I both said we would end up, long term, in a smaller community in a smaller town – we both enjoy that and we both grew up in that environment,” Reimers said.

When the community education director position opened up, Reimers said it felt like a good fit both personally and professionally.

In addition to his experience working with children at MPA, Reimers has licensure in staff development and community education, and spent time coaching varsity and recreational sports.

“It really gives me an opportunity to do everything that I’ve done in the past in a larger volume – that, to me, is exciting,” said Reimers.

After nearly two months on job, Reimers said his positive impressions about Morris’ community education program – especially the depth of programs for the size of the community – have been confirmed.

“It’s fun to be part of an exciting, growing, high-quality program,” he said.

As the community education office gets settled with new staff members, Reimers said one of his goals is to help broaden reach of the program by thinking more about what “Morris Area” really means without stepping on programs or resources that are already working well.

In addition to widening the geographic area, Reimers said he wants to look into expanding bilingual programming and look at what gaps there might be in programming for high school students.

“We need to widen our scope, and I’m excited about that,” said Reimers.

Outside of work, Reimers and his family – daughter Lauren and sons Tyler and Riley – like to spend time outside and playing sports. While at MPA, Reimers coached girls’ varsity softball, and his children are involved with sports across seasons.

One of the perks of moving back to the Morris area is to be close to family. Reimers’ parents live outside Chokio, while Lori’s parents live in Morris.